The University of Montana's Applied Forest Management Program (AFMP) is a research and outreach unit of the Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station. Our mission is to develop and promote silvicultural tools and techniques for the restoration and renewal of western forests. Toward this end, we test and evaluate innovative forest regeneration practices that directly address challenges identified by forest stewards and researchers, with emphasis on forest regeneration dynamics, reforestation methods, and silvicultural restoration techniques. Our core philosophy is that an active approach to forest management is key to sustaining forest resilience and management flexibility.
The AFMP is currently focused on advancing the New Forests Initiative, a teaching and research initiative with an emphasis on forest regeneration and reforestation. Bark beetles and wildfires during the past decade have strongly affected Montana forests, and our attention turns to the next-generation forest and strategies that can be employed to increase their resilience to future stress and disturbance. Our work includes the development of irregularly-spaced planting methods, evaluating novel silvicultural techniques that maintain and enhance stand complexity, identifying best practices for reforestation and restoration of degraded sites, and propagating native species for reforestation and revegetation. A highlight of this effort is the resurrection of a seedling nursery program based at the University of Montana's Memorial Greenhouse. Our objective for the nursery program is to provide students and the public with hands-on opportunities for engaging in seedling propagation processes and nursery practices, outplanting seedlings at restoration sites, and monitoring the performance of various stock types in different environments. Costs of the program are partially offset by the sale of tree seedlings and native plants to conservation partners.